Diversity, Accessibility, and Possibilities Confirmed LSTC as the Right Choice Jackie Miller
For MDiv student Jackie Miller, the journey to LSTC began as an undergraduate at Carthage College. “I was taking a J-term class on Christian spirituality, and on the second day of class we went to a little meditation chapel they had on campus to do the morning version of the Liturgy of the Hours,” she remembers. “And as we were sitting there, my mind just started to wander, and I knew that this is what I was being called to do in my life. And for the first time, I felt like I could actually do it, and that I could become the person I needed to be for [this calling].”
Once Miller began her discernment, she started having conversations with people on her campus about their own paths. In Miller’s case, both her campus pastor and one of her favorite professors had attended LSTC. Though Miller did her due diligence and researched several institutions, it was at LSTC where she had the feeling, “Yes, this is so right.”
For Miller, a few key values were important when choosing a seminary experience: the institution needed to have course offerings that aligned with her interests in biblical studies, it needed to actively embrace diversity and interculturalism, and it needed to prioritize accessibility. After attending several online Seminary Sampler options, where Miller got to interact with LSTC professors, take virtual tours, sample classes, and talk to current students, it was clear that LSTC fit the bill. “I loved that LSTC is so multicultural with so many international students,” she says. “The commitment to justice really spoke to my values,” she says.
At LSTC, Miller is pursuing the biblical studies emphasis. “I’m interested in questions of disability and theology because I’m disabled myself,” Miller says. “And really, just any way that we, as the church, can work to build community.” At LSTC, amongst supportive faculty, Miller has found an intellectual and spiritual environment that she characterizes as more considerate and intentional around building inclusive spaces than what she has experienced in her life prior to attending seminary. Now, in considering LSTC’s upcoming move, Miller has confidence that the values that LSTC embodies will result in affirming pedagogical and practical choices in the campus’ new physical location.
Of course, like all MDiv students, embarking on this journey has not been without its own set of challenges. “I would say the biggest challenge for me as a student is just having the energy to get all of these things done and keep up,” Miller says. “The best way I’ve learned to stay on top of things is by setting aside blocks of time to do things instead of thinking about individual tasks. Things can often feel much more doable when you say, ‘Okay, I’m going to set aside two hours to work on class readings,’ instead of ‘I have five or seven or ten class readings to get done.”
To prospective LSTC students, Miller has some pointers. “I’d like to pass along some advice I received from a seminarian, who said to make sure you are represented in the faculty, students, and class material,” Miller says. As Miller has found, in an environment dedicated to inclusivity, diversity, and justice, students of all walks of life won’t have to look far to see how they too will be valued for their individuality, intellectual curiosity, and faith-based practice at LSTC.